Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Viola Quote

Here's some food for thought. The following is quoting Frank Viola in Reimagining Church. pp 128-9:

"The indwelling life of Jesus Christ is the only requirement for the unity of the Spirit. And amazingly, we Christians can detect that shared Spirit whenever we meet one another. There's an instant sense of kinship that testifies that we have the same Father.

Certainly, those who have been born of the Spirit will live in a way that is consistent with this fact. Yet they may not be clear on many spiritual things. Their personality may conflict with ours. Their worship style may be distasteful to us. They may be immature and have struggles in areas that we've surpassed. They may be painfully eccentric. Their understanding of the Bible may be poverty stricken. They may make mistakes that they regret. And they just might hold to some false ideas. Yet the fact that Christ dwells in them obligates us to accept them as family members. Not only 'in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth'(1 John 2:18 NKJV)."

What are your thoughts along these lines?


craig v. said...

When I was in college I often reflected on how I seemed to know that some were Christians long before we talked about anything of substance. I would raise one caution, however. Though the Spirit is perfect, we're not. We may miss a few Christians and need to be open to that possibility. We can also be deceived.

Carey said...

Do you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead?
All else springs from that eternal fact. Beyond that benchmark of belief, other questions are doctrinal window-dressing.

ded said...

I don't give much thought to what I may miss. But if I miss something, what is the harm? Perhaps God did not work to overcome my blindness for some larger purpose of His. You are right, of course, craig; we miss much.

When two people disarmed by God's love and set free to love as He loves through the Holy Spirit get together, I think there is most likely, if not definitely a recognition of the spirit within each other. (If this is missed, something is amiss, but there is no blame to place. It is just what it is--a missed opportunity.) With the two who do not miss each other, however, it takes very little for the fellowship to begin to flow.

Consider you and me. We had not even faced off when you made a comment to me on Steve's blog to which I responded. I felt a kinship immediately with you because of not only the witness of the content of your words but the spirit with which you spoke your words. Meeting you face to face only confirmed what I had ascertained in cyberville.


Agreed. There is no litmus test. There is but the shared reality of Christ and Him crucified.

author@ptgbook.org said...

You seem to be saying that the Frank Viola quote that Christians can detect the Holy Spirit in other Christians is incorrect, and if that is what you are saying, I agree with you 100%.

A Christian having God's Holy Spirit cannot always correctly discern who else is a Christian with God's Holy Spirit. God didn't make it that easy for us to judge others that way.

The apostle John spoke of those who were in the Church, then left, saying that they went out to make obvious that they were never "of us" (1 John 2:19). Yet no doubt when there was a time when they were in the church and seemed to be one of us. But that was a false impression, and over time their fruits became known.

Jesus also gave the parable of the wheat and the tares. Tares can look a lot like wheat when the plant is young and Jesus said to NOT try to remove the tares lest the wheat could be also uprooted. This might be possible if you pull up a wheat plant because you think it looks like a tare.

It is God who knows the heart and will judge all of us. When we try to evaluate if someone is converted or not, we are bound to make mistakes. I know I have.

ded said...


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I didn't quote Viola for any reason other than to spark a discussion of the issue of fellowship between believers. In that line, there are now three different people commenting besides myself and that strikes me as good thing.

I hadn't thought about what direction these comments might take. I don't think the Viola quote is wrong. I agree with him and the point I think he was trying to make. However, as craig v. and you have pointed out, only God knows with certainty who is His and who is not. I agree with you both on that thought, but I see that as a tangent to what Viola was saying and what I was hoping we would talk about.

Given that in our discernment we may both miss knowing someone else is a believer and may accept someone who is later revealed to have been deceiving us and others, there then is the reality of a relationship we experience between one another and together with the Risen Lord. I enjoyed and resonated personally with what Viola said regarding what happens beyond this issue of who is real and who is not. (Not just in the quote but within the context of that quote in the book.)

I do appreciate your visiting here and speaking up! The Mind of Christ is not an individual expression from any one person but is rendered more visible and clear as we speak together about the love He has provided and on which He has instructed each one of us.

Christy said...

What a great quote--I started to read Viola's book a few night ago--so far, I am enjoying the reading quite well. I like reading your thoughts on this, ded, and agree with you that there is an immediate kinship that takes place when the unity of the spirit is there...which is why Steve and I enjoy your company so much....and miss you both immensely. Hopefully, we can remedy that soon ;)

ded said...


...as we miss ya'll!!